BATH — The Chocolate Church Arts Center and Shakespeare on the Kennebec partner to bring William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, “Macbeth,” to the main stage, running one more weekend at the downtown Bath performance venue.

“Macbeth” begins with a blood-curdling scream and dramatic music, priming the audience for a visceral reaction as the curtains open to a scene awash with red. The tone is set.

“Macbeth features Clay Hawks in the title role and April Purinton as his Lady Macbeth. Hawks performs this role with thoughtfulness, focus, study and torment. You can also understand him. Sometimes Shakespeare is very clear, but often he is so clever in his writing and you must speak it with clarity so the audience gets the wordplay, and is able to follow along. Hawks succeeds with this.

April Purinton fully embodies and/or is inhabited by the character of Lady Macbeth. Fierce, sympathetic, ruthless, unnerving. It’s the best I’ve ever seen her, and I’ve seen her do some great stuff. When the two were on stage alone, they had a credible connection and chemistry.

This is a big cast with deep talent and the vast majority perform their roles admirably. Even some of the smallest rolls were compelling. Some actors do a very nice job of presenting the words of Shakespeare in character.

Stellar actors are the character speaking the words in their own context. There’s a connection there and you can see it in their mannerisms, how they stop and consider their next words as if it were the first time these words were ever spoken.

In addition to Hawks and Purinton, Vince Shatto as Ross is one of those actors. Dennis Crews as Macduff is also strong.

In the closest we get to levity in this production, the well-known Porter’s monologue was performed artfully by Mark Hazzard, who I was later surprised to realize also portrayed Duncan, a much more one-dimensional character.

Whenever the witches enter, they are not caricatures but unique beings connected and disturbing in their separate yet interdependent movement and speech.

Set, lighting, sound, costumes, props, all tech need to support and enhance a production without distracting. There is a good balance in this production.

Sound effects are used well. Whispers which emanate when the witches are present, a light murmur of frogs in the background, music during the battle scenes. All of these choices, along with effective lighting serve to add to the layers of theatrical fabrication.

The costumes were fabulous. Multi-leveled, multi-texture. Not just a dress or shirt with a kilt and tartan. There’s a belt and other pieces hanging here and there, and a little extra leather or metal.

For the women, there are layers of jewelry and fabric and fur. Consideration was given to the footwear and legwear. All of this made it feel less like costumes and more like clothing these characters would wear, lending additional legitimacy to the roles.

Sometimes with Shakespeare, I lose where we’re at. Sometimes it’s a low talking actor, or the speed of speech, or I focus on a set piece and forget to listen to the words and find myself not sure where we are in the tale. In some productions, you play hell to catch up.

This production gave enough clues as to the tone and direction of a scene that even when I forgot the why, I was still able to sense the what.

Many community theater productions are rehearsed in about three months. This “Macbeth” is the culmination of years of preparation on behalf of the director and five months in rehearsal and training for the cast and crew. The audience reaps the benefits of this preparation in a well-considered and multi-dimensional production.

The Chocolate Church is located at 804 Washington Street. “Macbeth” continues June 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. with a final matinée on June 10 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, available by calling the Chocolate Church box office 442-8455 or online at

Tamara Lilly is a Woolwich native with 30-plus years as performer, tech, producer, director, teacher, board member and staff at community theaters in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Find the Stage Door Diva Podcast on iTunes or